Fashion & Textile Industry Skills Landscape
Analysing the New Zealand Fashion and Textile Industry Skills landscape
A skilled workforce plays a key role in supporting the development of an innovative, full-circle and thriving future for the fashion and textiles industry in Aotearoa NZ, one that creates positive benefits for people and planet.
Mindful Fashion, in collaboration with members of NZ’s fashion and textile industry and the sector's tertiary education providers, has built a comprehensive picture of the skills landscape across the industry in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through this project Mindful Fashion has developed a series of resource tools that showcase the diverse range of roles and skills required for a sustainable industry in Aotearoa, and has identified key skills gaps and opportunities where work needs to be done.
- New Zealand Fashion & Textile Industry Role Map
- New Zealand Fashion & Textile Industry Skills Landscape Paper
- New Zealand Fashion & Textile Industry Skills Framework
- New Zealand Fashion & Textile Industry Role Profile Library
This project was undertaken to understand what challenges the sector faces, and has resulted in several resources designed to address findings that emerged. The industry is facing numerous challenges, one of which is a critical shortage of technical skills to support manufacturing in New Zealand. A common lack of awareness of the broad range of roles available in the industry was identified as another challenge, creating a barrier to entry for many newcomers.
Our key ask of the industry at the start of this project was, “Do we have the skills needed to support a thriving and sustainable industry in New Zealand?” The resounding response was No. We do not.
The biggest area of concern around skilled workers was in technical skills, which includes:
Machining and garment construction;
Patternmaking, product development, cutting, textiles knowledge;
Digital - CAD, Clo 3D, design and development software, eg. Adobe suite;
Transferable soft skills also came up as areas of concern, including business skills, leadership skills, and sustainability skills.
The Skills Landscape paper analyses findings from industry stakeholder interviews to identify skills gaps, and outlines recommendations to address this challenge.
The Mindful Fashion Skills Framework
The fashion and textile industry is made up of a wide variety of businesses encompassing a broad range of roles, all of which require a diverse set of skills and experience. Mindful Fashion has created a skills framework, which has been validated by the industry. This framework outlines the key skills required for many of the roles in the industry. This tool is designed to be accessible for any interested stakeholder, including the tertiary education sector, the industry, school leavers, university graduates and job seekers. We want it to grow awareness, spark conversations, and capture more recruits into the broad range of roles we have. For example, it can be used as a guide for the tertiary sector in curriculum planning, to ensure teaching is aligned with industry needs. It can also be used by graduates as they plan their career progression in line with their own skillset. Additionally those looking to employ new staff can use the tool as they form the role outlines.
The Skills Framework is a living document and we welcome further feedback and input from industry.
To bring the diverse range of roles to life, and showcase the breadth and depth of the industry we are building a library of role profiles, starting with some of those which we know are facing a skills shortage.
- Sewing Technician/Machinist
- Production Manager
- Product Developer
- Digital Marketing Manager
We welcome recommendations for additional roles to profile.
Circular and Traceable T shirt
We are excited to announce the launch of the Mindful Fashion full-circle T shirt showcase.
The Mindful Fashion full circle T shirt has been developed to showcase a circular and sustainable future for the industry. The T-shirt is manufactured in NZ, from 100% certified organic cotton made in a transparent supply chain. Each T-shirt features a bespoke print from one of three Mindful Fashion designers, and is fully recyclable back into new fibre at the end of its life.
Wynn Hamlyn, Twenty Seven Names and Kate Sylvester have each designed a bespoke print for our circular T Shirt that speak to the Mindful Fashion audience about their brand and it's connection to Mindful Fashion’s mission. The T’s are available through each designer's sales channels and on the Mindful Fashion website.
Follow the T shirt's Provenance Journey...
The journey of our MFNZ T-shirt
Wear and care
Closing the loop
We want you to love and cherish your T shirt, repair it when needed, and care for it to give it a long and vibrant life. When it reaches the point where the T shirt is no longer wearable, we will bring the T shirt's life full circle. Send it back to us and we will recycle your T shirt back into new fibre through a partnership with New Zealand company Little Yellow Bird.
All proceeds from the sale of the Mindful Fashion T shirt will go towards our ongoing work to support sustainable and circular developments for the NZ industry.
Shop the Mindful Fashion full-circle T-shirt here.
Sustainability Insights Report - November 2021
In November, Mindful Fashion released its inaugural Sustainability Insights Report 2021. The report demonstrates the collective progress being made in the New Zealand fashion industry and presents a path forward for positive action.
Challenges and Opportunities
The report highlights where great work is being done and drills down into the challenges and the opportunities for sustainability across the industry in Aotearoa New Zealand. Findings show the industry’s biggest concern is integrity risks in its supply chain. Programme Director Jacinta FitzGerald says this highlights the nature of the challenges businesses in the sector face. With globalised supply chains and challenges around traceability of suppliers, businesses can have limited ability to influence their supply chains.
Emissions Reduction Plan submission - October 2021
Mindful Fashion has submitted feedback to the Government's emissions reduction plan consultation. The first emissions reduction plan will set the direction for climate action for the next 15 years for Aotearoa New Zealand. As an organisation we wanted to have a say on what we think should be included in the plan.
Sustainability Framework for members - February 2021
The clothing and textiles industry currently has no unified, or globally recognised path or methodology to act on sustainability. Building on our shared vision for a sustainable and thriving future for the industry, Mindful Fashion has created a Framework for Sustainability Action. The framework outlines the scope of sustainability challenges the industry currently faces, broken down into three pillars of People, the Environment and Business. We have developed our framework in consultation with members, industry experts and global initiatives.
The objective of the framework is to provide an overview of sustainability action areas for our members. The framework is not proposing that any business needs to be addressing all of these areas.
Our members operate at different stages of the supply chain and undertake a diverse range of business operations, therefore each member will have its own individual sustainability challenges to address. We will provide guidance for members to help them identify which areas within the framework are a priority for them, and then tools to help address these sustainability challenges. More to come on this.
Our goal is to create a community of positive change in our industry. Mindful Fashion will support members to identify their priorities, set ambition, take action and monitor progress on their sustainability goals in a way that works for their business.
To support our members to act on sustainability, we are developing tools and resources in partnership with local and global subject matter experts and aligned organisations. These will be delivered through workshops and masterclasses on a rolling basis over the course of 2021, and will be available for members on the Mindful Fashion website.
Circularity Working Group
A full-circle clothing and textile industry is part of our mission statement at Mindful Fashion. With this in mind we have established a working group of interested members from across the value chain to come up with a plan for how we can work together to bring this closer to reality.
Some of our challenges as an industry are:
- We are producing and consuming more than ever. Production has doubled in the last 15 years while use-rates have dropped by 40%. 1
- While less than 1% of used clothing and textiles are recycled back into new clothing; in fact 85% ends up in landfill. 2
- The industry’s current “take, make, waste” approach does not manage resources for the long term; as a planet we use 1.7x the earth’s resources each year! 3
- In Aotearoa the majority of textile waste ends up in landfill - an estimated 220,000 tonnes/yr. Auckland Council estimates textiles are 9% of their landfills, and that at current growth rates this would rise to 14% by 2040. 4
- There is currently little to no local operational textile recycling in Aotearoa, or textile production.
The industry needs to move towards a circular system, where resources are used more and products are designed never to become waste. We need to start putting value ahead of volume.
To help solve some of these wicked challenges, our working group is currently exploring themes in two areas:
- How can we be more circular now with existing models and systems
- How we can create more circular models and systems for the future
We have identified two projects that have potential to help the industry move towards a more circular system. These are both in the scoping stage and more information, including how members can get involved, will follow soon. Let us know if you’re keen to be involved!
1. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017. A New Textiles Economy.
2. Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017. A New Textiles Economy.
3. Global Footprint Network, 2020. Earth Overshoot Day.
4. The Formary, 2020. Looking in the Mirror; A review of circularity in the clothing and textiles industry in Aotearoa.
The New Zealand garment manufacturing industry is under threat, and now more than ever, we need to support our beloved local supply chain of makers who bring your favourite clothes to life.
New Zealand needs to invest in a sustainable future for the local fashion industry and the creation of manufacturing jobs. It is becoming more and more challenging to produce clothing in New Zealand with a declining number of New Zealanders who have technical expertise and skills in garment construction.
Mindful Fashion has been working with Industry Training Organisation (ITO) Competenz, a government agency, to develop a meaningful garment manufacturing apprenticeship programme to fulfil much needed industry skill shortages and create jobs within our clothing industry. We began this process in August 2020 thinking it would be a relatively simple undertaking. What novices! The wheels of bureaucracy work on a frustratingly slow rotation.
In October 2020 we surveyed members and the wider industry to determine the need and feasibility of an apprenticeship program. Our analysis of the results showed there is demand, especially in the area of machining. Of those surveyed more than 50% said they would be willing to take on an apprentice. Working with Competenz we have built out a business case which is making its way through the system.
The scoping document to develop a machining apprenticeship was submitted to the Senior Leadership team at Competenz in December 2020, and has been approved to the next stage of internal discovery, which includes updating the unit standards and creating supporting assessments - looking to be added to the 2021 Competenz work plan.
However, the current vocational education system is being redesigned through ROVE, the Reform of Vocational Education. Under ROVE, in 2021 new Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) are being developed along with one central Industry Training Organisation, Te Pukenga, which will replace Competenz. While we are assured this should not impact existing programs of work, this adds potentially further complications to our development timeline. In early march 2021, Jacinta, Kate and Trevor are due to meet with Fiona Kingsford, CEO of Competenz in an effort to make our case a greater priority.
More to come as this project progresses.
Our objective is to develop a capable and responsive workforce. To achieve this, we need to ensure our industry has pathways to employment for graduates entering the workforce, and on-the-job training pathways for those upskilling/developing new skills.
A strong workforce development pipeline will enable our industry to increase innovation and productivity, and build a resilient and thriving industry to meet the changing demands of society and consumers.
Two pathways have been identified to begin to develop a strong workforce. These are not exhaustive, but are avenues we are currently focussing on due to acute need.
- Degree program graduates > Workplace internships / graduate placements
- Vocational on-the-job training > Apprenticeships
Mindful Fashion has identified a need to work closely with New Zealand’s tertiary education providers to ensure their graduates are meeting the needs of industry, and to ensure recruitment pathways exist for students entering the workforce.
In September 2020, Mindful Fashion submitted a Needs Analysis to Competenz to support an application to the Covid-19 Response Fund to assist the sector in recovery from Covid-19 impacts. The application was for funding for the design and pilot of a Graduate Placement Programme. Competenz advised that this proposal would have a low chance of success for the Covid Relief Fund and therefore advised us to focus instead on developing an apprenticeship program through the standard channels.
We are currently developing a proposal for a pilot Graduate Placement Program to help bridge the gap between tertiary education and employment for students. The idea of the program is to connect graduates with potential employers and provide them with commercial experience in the form of a paid internship. We have raised this program with both TEC and Competenz with positive responses, yet the concept falls outside their brief.
To support this, in January Jacinta and Trevor took Mindful Fashion to the Beehive! We met with Jan Tinetti (Minister for Women and Associate Minister of Education) and a senior policy advisor to Chris Hipkins. We discussed industry challenges and opportunities, in particular around workforce development. We were advised by the Minister to build out the proposal for a pilot program, and submit it for funding to Government Agencies to be advised.
More to come as this project progresses.
Code of Conduct
Mindful Fashion NZ is a voluntary organisation. Members choose to join because they share a common aspiration for a sustainable future for the New Zealand Clothing and Textiles industry. To support this common agenda, we have created the Mindful Fashion NZ Code of Conduct.
The MFNZ Code of Conduct sets out baseline standards of responsible business practice for the industry. The standards cover business ethics, human and labour rights and environmental stewardship. All our members are expected to adopt the Code for their businesses (or an equivalent), and we will provide support around implementing this.
By adopting the same Code we set a shared understanding of ethical and sustainable practice among members and with wider society. This is a big step forward for us as an organisation - defining the shared commitment that sets Mindful Fashion NZ members apart!
The Code replaces the original Partnership Agreement, and for those who signed this the substance is essentially the same. The core difference is that each member business is responsible for implementing the Code in their own business. It is not an agreement between businesses, rather a shared set of standards. We made this change based on feedback from members, in line with our strategic direction.
Codes of Conduct are an important tool in the apparel industry and are expected by other businesses, NGOs and some consumers. While we do not see Mindful Fashion's role at this point as monitors of compliance with the Code, we know verification of the Code through the supply chain is important. We plan to engage with members in 2021, to understand the need that a verification process is addressing, so we can determine the best way to address this.
The Code and Charter can be accessed here.